Build-to-rent sector growing as new ‘village’ could bring 1,300 more homes

A huge new build-to-rent project is on the cards for Bermondsey in London, as the number of homes targeted at renters rather than buyers grows across the UK.

The £500m scheme, which is being assessed by Southwark Council, is on the site of the old Peek Freans biscuit factory, close to the Shard. Each unit will be built to rent, with properties ranging from studio flats to three-bedroom apartments.

The project is being launched by the Duke of Westminster’s Grosvenor Estate, which owns around 300 acres in prestigious Mayfair and Belgravia. The estate plans to advertise at least a quarter of the flats at a 25% discount in order to increase affordability.

In its application to the council, Grosvenor said: “Investment of this scale, combined with Grosvenor’s intention to retain ownership of the development and its commitment to active local involvement, creates a catalyst for significant long-term social and economic benefits in the wider neighbourhood and the potential to improve the wellbeing of those living, learning and working locally.”

On the rise

The most recent figures from the British Property Federation looking at the build-to-rent market show that there are now 95,918 units across the UK either completed, under construction or waiting for planning permission.

London is a particularly popular location for the sector, with 54,978 build-to-rent units, making up more than half of the total UK figure.

As owning a property in the capital becomes more difficult with rising prices, renting is the most viable option for many – and build-to-rent options can provide a more attractive package. They offer stability for the tenant, are professionally managed, and provide a higher standard of living often with added extras such as a gym and concierge service, as well as built-in benefits like extra storage, en-suites and well-maintained communal areas. Rents might be higher, but can be inclusive of bills and service charges, with tenants paying a premium for the lifestyle.

As opposed to traditional landlord-owned rental properties, build-to-rent homes tend to be owned by institutions, such as banks and pension companies, who then let them out using agents.

Sir Steve Bullock, London Councils’ executive member for housing, said: “As the number of Londoners living in private rented accommodation is increasing, delivering high quality housing built specifically for renting at scale and pace will meet the growing demand for this type of accommodation as well as improving standards in the private rented sector.”

North-west influx

Outside the capital, figures from the end of Q3 this year showed that more than 2,860 build-to-rent homes had been completed in the north-west, which is a jump of 56.5% from Q1 when the number was 1,830.

There are around 7,120 units currently under construction in the region, and planning applications for build-to-rent have risen from 7,760 to 8,660 in the third quarter, according to research produced by estate agents Savills.

In Manchester, the Chapel Wharf development by Dandara Group is expected to create 995 homes across four blocks when it is completed in 2019, which will “play a vital role in injecting sustainable development into the city’s derelict sites”, according to the company’s website.

Over in Liverpool, developer Placefirst has recently confirmed the second phase of its £5m scheme to transform a number of empty properties in Morecambe into build-to-rent units. The development, West Ent Two, will create 51 new homes “at competitive prices that reflect the standard, quality and level of the refurbishment”, says the company.

The project follows West End One, which was completed last year to offer 47 new homes after the transformation of 29 large empty properties in the area.

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